Tim Noonan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 October, 2007, 12:00am

You there, pour yourself a cooling libation and leave the troubles of the day behind for a bit. There you go, everything cool? I hope so because unlike the world of matchplay golf, I want you to be as comfortable as possible when you read this.

For you, for me, for Vijay Singh, for Ernie Els and for Adam Scott, it's all about comfort level. I like to be comfortable and I am sure you do as well. But Singh, Els and Scott, they don't want some people to be too comfortable, most notably the American team who shellacked the International team, consisting of all the top non-European players, 191/2 to 141/2 last week at the Presidents Cup in Montreal.

According to the Fijian, South African and Australian a large part of the reason their team lost was because the Americans, the visiting squad, were far too comfortable.

'I think [the Americans] are very comfortable with us,' said Singh. 'We play on the US Tour. Most of our friends are Americans. We go out, we play practice rounds with the guys. When they play against the European side, they don't even know half the side, how they play, how they interact.'

The fact that Montreal is a scant 100km from the American border apparently played a large part in the International defeat as well. 'The two tournaments that we did well in were way south,' said Els, referring to the 1998 and 2003 events, where the Internationals won and tied, in Australia and South Africa respectively.

Added Aussie Scott: 'We need not be afraid of sending it down south, because that is an advantage for us. The Americans need to get outside their comfort zone for us to do well.'

So there you have it. A team with four South Africans, four Australians and one Fijian lost to the Yanks, presumably because their 'guests' were too comfortable and too close to home. After playing this event in San Francisco in 2009 it will then head back Down Under to Royal Melbourne in 2011.

If logic holds, the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be kept busy dodging rabid kangaroos and a legion of drunken louts while stumbling back to their hotel and asking the concierge, 'Why can't I get a baseball game on the TV in my room?'

Well, mate, because you're in Australia now, one of the most provincial sporting cultures in the world. So shut your jet-lagged yap, drink a tinny or two of VB, watch a couple of Super 12 matches and show up at the golf course tomorrow in a miserable mood with a wayward putter. Ah yes, the simple solution for International success.

Except things are never that simple. This International team had 10 of the top 20 players in the world on their squad. The US team, by contrast, had five of the top 20. No wonder the Internationals are having such a hard time looking in the mirror.

On paper, this should have been a mismatch. The other three members of the International team were Argentina's Angel Cabrera, South Korea's KJ Choi and Canadian Mike Weir.

As far as Weir goes, well his country was so busy trying to be cordial hosts that they forgot their real role was to make the Americans feel uncomfortable. Another complaint from some of the International team members was that the overflow Canadian crowds were so enamoured with Weir that they barely had enough enthusiasm left for his teammates.

No question the support helped Weir, who was easily the top International with a 3-1-1 record, including a memorable singles victory over Woods on Sunday. But Adam Scott is the number-six player in the world, you would think his own comfort zone would be far more important than his opponents'. Still, when your record for the tournament is a miserable 1-3-1, you cling to any excuse you can find.

The truth is the International team played so soft, they were begging the Yanks to toss them around like rag dolls. Fellow Aussie Nick O'Hern was 1-4-0. Presumably these tin men will roar like lions in Melbourne in four years, what with a full-throated Aussie crowd taking the Americans out of their comfort zone.

But be careful what you wish for. Eight years ago, the American Ryder Cup team and their fans went to great lengths to take the Europeans out of their comfort zone and it worked with a remarkable Sunday comeback featuring some of the most boorish behaviour the competition has seen.

Since then, the Yanks have been pounded three straight times by a European team made up of decidedly inferior talent. It's all about golf karma. The Americans violated it in 1999 and they are paying for it still.

One guy whose karma was decidedly better than his International teammates last weekend was Weir, who responded to the suffocating adulation by playing some of his best golf ever.

A day after beating Woods in Montreal, his name was heading a press release in Hong Kong announcing that 'Tiger-slayer' Weir was on his way here to play in the UBS Hong Kong Open. However, there was no mention that Weir's team got smoked by the Yanks.

There was also no mention whether organisers were worried that coming all the way over to Hong Kong would take Weir out of his comfort zone. But as a member of the International team, it probably bears watching. At least according to Messrs Singh, Els and Scott.